Just a quick little ride from Kobe to Tokyo.

A couple of weeks ago, Mitsuo Tanigami, a resident of Kobe, decided he wanted to see his kids. However, both his son, Naoya, and his daughter, Sayuri, are grown up and moved out of the house, so it wasn’t as simple as sauntering into the living room and giving them a fatherly pat on the head.

Naoya lives all the way in Tokyo, about halfway across the country from Kobe, so you might expect Mitsuo to hop on the Shinkansen and ride the bullet train for three hours to the capital.

But Mitsuo had a slightly longer ride…since he rode his bicycle from Kobe to Tokyo instead. He wound up riding roughly 600 kilometers (373 miles) over the course of nine days.

Based on his physically ambitious choice of transportation method and his kids already being self-sufficient adults, you might be imagining that Mitsuo became a father very early in life, and is still in his early 40s, or maybe even 30s, with his children being very recent college graduates. But nope – son Naoya is 61 years old, and dad Mitsuo is 89!

▼ This video, showing Mitsuo being interviewed at an art exhibit to which he contributed some sculptures, is from six years ago.

Mitsuo ran a photo studio until seven years ago, and about a year ago he bought an electric-assist bicycle for himself. Seeing Naoya continually challenge himself, often traveling overseas for his job, Mitsuo decided to take on a challenge too, which is how he got the idea to ride his bike all the way to Tokyo. Oh, and he did this without using GPS, Google Maps, or any other sort of digital pathfinding aids. Instead, he carried a paper map (1:200,000-scale), marking his route as he went in pencil. When he got lost, he’d ask for directions from parking lot attendants or other locals, who’d direct him to landmarks so that he could get back on course.

Setting out early on the morning of March 17, Mitsuo made it all the way to Takatsuki City in Osaka Prefecture on his first day.

▼ Kobe to Takatsuki

From there, he kept pedaling towards Tokyo, passing by sites such as Lake Biwa and Mt. Fuji. Along the way, he’d spend the night at hotels or inns along his route, but that doesn’t mean he had an easy trip. Mitsuo’s journey coincided with heavy rains and strong winds in the parts of Japan he was passing through, and he estimates that he fell from his bike around 20 times before arriving in Tokyo.

Still, he kept making progress. On the third day, he reached the town of Fuso in Aichi Prefecture, where Sayuri lives. He spent two days with her at her house, and also paused for one full day of rest elsewhere en route to Tokyo. Again, though, this doesn’t mean that Mitsuo was pedaling the path of least resistance, as his route through Kanagawa Prefecture, Tokyo’s neighbor to the south, took him through the steep mountain passes of Hakone.

Finally, on March 25, Mitsuo made it to Tokyo. Though he’d been navigating by paper map, Mitsuo did have a smartphone on him so that Naoya could track his progress, and he came out to the street to greet his octogenarian dad as he pulled up on his bike. “It was a tough experience, but I’m happy that I was able to make my son happy,” said Mitsuo at the end of his journey.

During his stay with Naoya, the father and son took in the local sites and, yes, went for bike rides together. However, Mitsuo opted to take an easier route home, apparently either by train or plane, and so he left his bike at his son’s place in Tokyo. He hasn’t asked Naoya to ship it to him, though, and instead says he plans to come pick it up this summer and ride it back to Kobe.

Source: Kobe Shimbun Next via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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